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October 30, 2018

THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 30 October 2018

Next Tuesday, 11/6, is Election Day. No doubt many will be thrilled with the results, and others will be desolate in their emotions. How should Christians respond, if the person for whom we voted either wins or losses? President Lincoln prioritized the art of persuasion with those opposed to our principles.

To have expected them to do otherwise than they did -- to have expected them not to meet denunciation with denunciation, crimination with crimination, and anathema with anathema, was to expect a reversal of human nature, which is God’s decree, and never can be reversed. When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that a “drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause really be a just one. On the contrary, assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart; and though your cause be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder than steel, and sharper than steel can be made, and though you throw it with more than Herculean force and precision, you shall be no more be able to pierce him, than to penetrate the hard shell of a tortoise with a rye straw [Abraham Lincoln, “Temperance Address,” 22 February 1842].

President Lincoln rightly understood how to convince and help others to adopt our values. Christians, especially, are not to “demonize” those who reject biblical principles; rather, we are to reach those who are opposed to God with the saving message of Jesus Christ, and when a person trusts the Author (God) of the Bible, then we are able to disciple them to adopt the principles of Scripture.

First Samuel 24:1-7 reveals how David heeded God’s Word, and was able to convince an entire group to adopt his biblical principles. “David persuaded his men” with his words (v. 7). Literally, the word translated “persuaded” means “tore apart.” The same Hebrew word is used in Isaiah 53:5, which prophesied how the Lord Jesus would be “pierced through for our transgressions.

First Samuel 24 indicates how Saul came to a cave to “relieve himself” (24:3). The idiom literally means, “to cover his feet” (cf. Deut 23:13), which could mean that Saul was relaxing for the moment. Saul’s rest provided David with the opportunity and time to remove “the edge of Saul’s robe secretly.” David was convicted because his action was a symbolic attack to Saul’s kingship, and was therefore rebellion against God (24:6). David’s conscience bothering him does not make sense if he did not believe in the sovereignty of God to remove Saul from his office.

We can imagine that David’s men did not initially agree that they should let Saul leave the cave, yet David affirmed a righteous principle (v. 6) until his argument persuaded (“tore apart”) his men. David persuaded his men because, ultimately, he was wholly confident in God. His “conscience bothered him” (v. 5), which indicates a godly lifestyle, and thus he based his decision upon a righteous principle, and then trusted God to resolve the situation, even in the midst of opposition.

God affirmed, “‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution” (Deut 32:35; cf. Rom 12:19). David trusted in the holy and just God to act on his behalf. Years later, David’s son Solomon asserted, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov 16:7). How do we convince others to adopt righteous principles from God’s holy and inspired Word? We persuade others through a compelling godly lifestyle that is resolutely confident in the Lord God, and then we can convince others to follow our example, as we follow the example of Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

Interim Bible Study

is next Tuesday, 6th of November
Room 123 CAP, Georgia Capitol, @ 12 Noon